Digitalization: Haastrup flays Shippers’ Council, NIMASA, NPA for shunning town hall meeting

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The Chairman, Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Princess Dr. Vicky Haastrup has lampooned the managements of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Nigerian Ports Authority for staying away from town hall meeting organized by the League of Maritime Editors and Publishers in Lagos on Thursday with the theme, “Achieving Effective Digitalization of Nigeria’s Maritime Industry.”  

Haastrup who spoke on “The Impact of Automation In Cargo Handling Operations”, at the event expressed her disappointment at the inability of the government agencies operating at the nation’s seaports to attend the all-important meeting which she believed would have a direct impact on their activities.

Her words, “I thought this whole place would have been filled up. I was sitting in my office waiting for when Bolaji will call me that it is time. Where is the Nigerian Ports Authority? Where is Shippers’ Council? I am trying to see one person from the Nigerian Ports Authority, this hall should be full. Where is NIMASA?

“I could see some wonderful people from the Nigeria Customs Service and I am happy that you are here because some of the things that we will talk about here actually relate to issues that are giving us concern in this industry. I thought this whole hall should be full because the topic and I know there is wide coverage about this town hall meeting and I thought that everybody should be concerned enough or interested to come and discuss the topics that we are discussing here today. So, I am disappointed.”

She, however, thanked the President of the League of Maritime Editors and his members for conceptualizing the town hall meeting, describing it as timely as well as a prove of the passion they had for the growth of the maritime industry.

“And by this town hall meeting, it shows that you care for Nigeria. I want to say a big thank you on behalf of Nigeria. So, I want to say a big thank you. The maritime industry belongs to all of us and this is where we operate. So, it is of great concern to all of us that this industry strives as high as it could and everybody, all the operators within the industry will do the right thing”, she added.

She went on to described the maritime industry as the hope for Nigeria arguing that the hope of Nigeria does not lie in the oil anymore because very soon, the oil will become one Naira.

According to her, “It happened last year, crude oil became one Dollar and I believe that the federal government was afraid, everybody was afraid when that happened and we haven’t seen anything yet because the developed countries of the world are doing away with oil very soon, so, there won’t be anybody to buy our oil.

“In UK right now, diesel for those people who have diesel vehicles, you pay through your throat. So, what are they doing? They are selling to third world countries like Nigeria. America is thinking ahead, other countries of the world are thinking. So, if there is no oil, what is in it for Nigeria? And what is left for Nigeria is maritime.

“Maritime industry has the capacity to solve income generation problem for Nigeria, it’s such a buoyant industry. It is a big industry, there are so many people that are participating in this industry, I mean everyone, not just the terminal operators, freight forwarders, transporters. If you know the volume of people that are participating and operating in this our industry, federal government should pay attention to this industry.”

Earlier in his welcome address, the President, League of Maritime Editors and Publishers, Mr. Kingsley Anaroke observed that digitalization and new development in the field of artificial intelligence, block chain, internet and automation were becoming increasingly relevant for maritime transformation insisting that they tend to streamline the existing processes, create opportunities and transform supply chains and trade geography.

He described digitalization as the digital transformation of port processes which involved changing the way port operates, turning them into smart ports and thus affecting positively, the entire maritime and transport supply chain.

He added that digitalization was the idea that all relevant data was provided to all stakeholders real time on one platform to improve efficiency and accurate decision making noting that digitalization leverages on digitization.

“For instance, digitization in a port or terminal system replaces cranes with automation but digitalization brings value to the crane operators by placing them in a comfort zone which makes their job safer and more efficient. Automation, digitization, all operates within digitalization and I think the better we appreciate them, it really helps us to know the scope of what we are discussing about what is happening in the industry”, he said.

“There are stages in this journey but we have to crawl before walking especially, however, digitalization is the foundation of smart port and digital twin which uses innovation and technologies like big data, internet of things, artificial intelligence and block chain. Digital twin means a virtual representation of the entire port or terminal with the physical object, processes, relationships and behaviours between all activities and actors.

“However, in Nigeria context today, we are simply asking for a mere system automation, how do we improve cargo dwell time, how do we make sure that we do not have frictions because this is the issue we have, an elementary aspect of digitalization.

Automation therefore is the creation and application of technologies to produce and deliver goods and services with minimal human intervention. The main driver for automation in container terminal is to reduce cost per handled container; that is cost per move in terminals while improving reliability, predictability, safety of operations.

“The questions begging for answers, therefore, are how far has the terminal operators gone with this process? What is the preparedness of the agencies to deliver the real time smart ports? How much is voted for the digitalization process and what are the timelines by government and the private sector operators? How serious is the media and stakeholders in holding the operators accountable to deliver this process? This town hall meeting is, therefore, expected to answer some of these questions”, he further stated.

Photo: Princess Dr. Vicky Haastrup, Chairman, Seaports Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN).

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